Get to know Royals top pick Gavin Cross

July 18th, 2022

He boasts one of the best bats in a Draft class that's hitter-heavy at the top and is now the No. 9 pick in the 2022 Draft, headed to the Royals. But who is Gavin Cross? Here's a look at the Virginia Tech outfielder, MLB Pipeline's No. 9 Draft prospect:

Primary position: OF
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 210 lbs.
Bats/throws: Left/left
Birthdate: Feb. 13, 2001
College: Virginia Tech
High school: Tennessee (Bristol, Tenn.)
Born: Bristol, Tenn.

He helped Virginia Tech to arguably its best season ever

Picked by the league's head coaches to finish sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division, Virginia Tech entered the year with low outside expectations. But thanks to a dynamic lineup headlined by Cross, the Hokies won 45 games, captured their first ACC regular-season title, made and hosted their first NCAA regional since 2013, and reached their first Super Regional.

Cross finished the year slashing .328/.411/.660 with 17 homers and 50 RBIs. He also went 12-for-12 on stolen base attempts. In being named the Most Outstanding Player of the Blacksburg Super Regional, he went 8-for-13 with two homers -- including a 432-foot blast that soared over the video scoreboard in right field.

“I don’t think the moment is ever too big for him,” Virginia Tech coach John Szefc told The Roanoke Times. “I think No. 1, he’s good enough. And No. 2, he’s played in big situations, so I don’t think he’s going to run into a situation where the moment’s too big.

“I think you’ll see him play this game for a long time -- in a lot bigger ballparks than this one in front of a lot more people.”

He's already starred at a big league park

On April 23, Cross and the Hokies played at Fenway Park as part of Boston College's 10th annual ALS Awareness Game. Cross went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the Hokies' 6-1 win, driving in one run on a ground-rule double that took a massive hop and bounced off the right-field wall before clipping Pesky's Pole.

He could make Virginia Tech Draft history

If Cross is selected within the first 11 picks, he'll become the highest Draft pick in Virginia Tech history. That honor currently belongs to Joe Saunders, who was taken 12th overall by the Angels in 2002. At the very least, Cross is set to become just the second Hokie hitter ever drafted in the first round -- and the first since the Dodgers took Franklin Stubbs 19th overall in 1982.

He showed out for the Collegiate National Team

As much as he impressed over his first two years at Virginia Tech, Cross cemented himself as a first-round pick with a strong summer on the 2021 U.S. Collegiate National Team, leading a stacked roster in batting average (.467). He also tied for the team lead with four homers, 12 RBIs and three stolen bases.

He hit for the cycle

Among the most notable accomplishments of his collegiate career, Cross became the first Hokie since 2010 to hit for the cycle on April 6, 2021, when he went 4-for-7 with seven RBIs in a 15-5 victory over East Tennessee State. Cross pulled off a rare reverse cycle by hitting a grand slam, a triple and a double before singling in his last at-bat.

He wasn't always viewed as an elite prospect

Following a high school career in which he was sidelined for long stretches due to injuries, Cross arrived at Virginia Tech in the fall of 2019 as a relatively unheralded recruit. It didn't take long, though, for him to start turning heads.

Cross batted .369 in 16 games during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. He then came back a year later and firmly established himself as a hitter to watch, posting a 1.035 OPS to go along with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs.

“I wasn’t really talked about in the Draft out of high school,” Cross told the Baseball Prospect Journal. “Over the last three years, I have transformed myself and put myself in a good position with the Draft. I still have a long way to go, but I think I have improved every year. I really made a big jump from my freshman year to my second year. It was really when I separated myself from other people.”

He's following in his father's footsteps

Cross' father, Adam, played college baseball at East Tennessee State before spending three Minor League seasons in the Braves and Padres organizations. In his first pro season of 1995, he slashed .304/.349/.403 in 50 games with the Danville Braves of the Rookie-level Appalachian League.